ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF)–We have to give credit to the IceHogs players for qualifying for the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs. We also have to give credit to interim head coach Anders Sorensen. After being thrust into the position, he has pushed the right buttons guiding the development and growth of this young team.

When the Blackhawks fired Jeremy Colliton early last November it created a chain reaction. IceHogs head coach Derek King became the Blackhawks’ interim head coach, and Sorensen was promoted from assistant coach with the IceHogs to their interim head coach. Sorensen made some subtle changes.

“We did tweak some things we did, some nuances in how we prepare and stuff like, but nothing earth shattering. It seemed like the players took to it.”

Sorensen has been in the Blackhawks’ organization since 2014 when he first served as their development coach. Before that, he was the head coach of the Chicago Mission Youth Hockey Club U16 team. That’s when IceHogs general manager Mark Bernard got to know him.

“He was my son’s head coach with the Chicago Mission in U16, and they won the national title for the whole country,” said Bernard. “You could tell then he has a great ability to deal with kids at this young age and an ability to get across his points to them.”

IceHogs players like Mike Hardman like the way Sorensen has dealt with the team. “I like him a lot because he’s really hard on the top guys on our team. For example, if I’m not playing well, he’s on me where I think other coaches are not really necessarily hard on the top guys.”

“He’s hard on everyone and keeping everyone accountable,” said IceHogs Center Evan Barratt. “That’s huge if you’re first line or you’re fourth line.”

Current IceHogs’ players have also credited Sorensen with keeping an even keel whether the team is going well or if it’s struggling.

“I think that’s my personality a little bit,” said Sorensen. “I think you’ve just got to look ahead to the next day, and you’re going to have a really good day the next day no matter what happened the night before or what’s happening in the moment.”

“One thing I really like about Anders is the communication, and his ability to delegate,” said Bernard. His attention to detail. He holds the guys accountable which I love.”

Sorensen is smart enough to know he doesn’t know everything, and he listens to his players as well as his assistant coaches.

“One of the biggest things I’ve learned probably is the players know a lot more than we think sometimes as coaches. They’re very knowledgeable. The older guys have been around. They’re very tuned in.”

“You know, we want to win games, and he wants to win more than anyone,” said Barratt, “So I think that’s a passion that definitely leaks on us, so we’re excited to keep it going.”
I asked Sorensen if it’s difficult having that ‘Interim” label and not knowing what the future holds. He said he hasn’t really thought about it that much. He says he just wants to do what is best for the team and what’s best for the organization.

NOTE: As of Thursday night, the IceHogs have a record of 37-28-4-1. They have clinched a Calder Cup playoff berth with two regular season games remaining. They’re still playing for the number three seed in the Central Division trying to overtake Milwaukee. The IceHogs have games left Friday in Milwaukee and Saturday at home against the Chicago Wolves.